A jihadist group has left Syria and is heading for Norway to carry out a terrorist attack, according to Norwegian security officials.
The statement comes the day after the head of the Norwegian Security Service, the Norwegian Police Commissioner and the Minister of Justice held a press conference in Oslo on Thursday at which they warned of “a potential threat to national security in Norway.”
Benedicte Bjørnland, head of the security services, told the press conference: “We have received information that there are people who have fought on the ground in Syria involved. We are keeping all possibilities open. We will work intensely to develop a clearer picture of the threat.”
PST, the anti-terrorist police agency, received the information from usually reliable sources, but is uncertain about where and when an attack would take place, the Norwegian news agency NTB said.
Jon Fitje Hoffmann, a strategic analysis chief from PST, told Norwegian television: “We received information that a group of people have travelled from Syria with the goal of carrying out a terror attack in the West, and Norway is specifically named. That was the starting point for the situation we are in now,” according to a report by the Russian news service rt.com.
Police throughout Norway are now on alert and armed police presence will be increased at places such as border crossings, airports, and train stations, said Vidar Refviksanden, acting chief for the Norwegian police force.
The warning came in the week of the third anniversary of the mass killings by Anders Behring Breivik, the Norwegian terrorist who killed 77 people in a bombing and shooting massacre in Olso and the island of Utøya. Breivik is now serving 21 years with the possibility of an unlimited extension.
According to the Financial Times, reports from the US this week said that airport security had been increased because of the threat from a Norwegian fighting in Syria who had received bomb-making training in Yemen.
Last month Gilles de Kerchove, the European Union’s counter-terrorism co-ordinator, warned about the threat posed by “EU citizens” such as Mehdi Nemmouche, a Frenchman of Algerian background, who is facing charges for the terrorist shootings at the Jewish Museum in Brussels in June, returning after having fought in Syria. De Kerchove said this was now one of the gravest security threats facing the EU.
He said that the Brussels shooting was “probably not the last attack we will see. It is a sad concretisation of a threat that we know was there for months.” He said counter terror officials “have been ringing the bell and alarming people of this risk since 2013.”
According to The Local, Norwegian officials have decided to close the Jewish Museum in Oslo and tours of the Royal Palace have been cancelled, as well as public entry to City Hall. The American and British embassies have advised their citizens visiting Norway to remain vigilante.